GM says it won't sell Opel; PSA alliance on track
Fiat ready to buy troubled European unit, Italian newspaper reports
FRANKFURT -- General Motors Co. reaffirmed its commitment to Opel/Vauxhall, rejecting an Italian newspaper report that said Fiat is ready to buy Opel if GM's alliance with PSA/Peugeot Citroen dissolves.
"Opel is not for sale. GM fully stands behind Opel," said GM Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky in a statement today.
Earlier, Italian daily Il Sole-24 Ore reported that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is preparing a new proposal to buy Opel if GM decides to sell it. "Marchionne's plan is to get Opel practically free, not unlike what happened with Chrysler and not unlike Fiat's offer for Opel in 2009," Il Sole-24 Ore said.
Fiat declined to comment when contacted by Automotive News Europe.
In a statement in reaction to the report, Girsky, who heads GM's European operations, said: "Opel is a fully integrated part of GM's global footprint and vital for GM's future success in Europe. The GM-PSA alliance is fully on track."
Opel has been a drag on GM's performance, prompting financial analysts to call for its disposal.
Morgan Stanley said last month that Opel is the single biggest threat to GM's long term financial future and that ultimately separation is the best option. The analysts estimated that Opel will lose an average of $1 billion annually through to 2021. On Friday, Morgan Stanley said the Il Sole-24 Ore report appeared to be "highly speculative."
Fiat's cash pile
Fiat acquired a stake in Chrysler in 2009 in exchange for its small-vehicle technology and management expertise. Marchionne has said that the European auto industry needs to consolidate if it is to weather the market's five-year slump.
Fiat's losses in Europe are offset by profits from the U.S. market, where it controls Chrysler, giving it a huge cash pile that could be used for acquisitions.
Fiat had expressed interest in acquiring Opel in 2009 as GM slid into short-lived bankruptcy. Canadian supplier Magna International and Russian backers were awarded exclusivity in negotiations with GM that ended when GM's board made a U turn and decided to keep Opel.
Reuters contributed to this report